Five pieces of race technology in road cars

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Five pieces of race technology in road cars


The Mercedes-AMG E 43 packs some exclusive technology that is used in F1. And vans!

DAVID LINKLATER / STUFF

The Mercedes-AMG E 43 packs some exclusive technology that is used in F1. And vans!

Back in the good old days of motorsport where “win on Sunday” meant “sell on Monday” and racing cars were far less specialised things, having bits of racing technology on your road car was way more common (and obvious) than it is now.

But it does still happen. So today we take a look at five pieces of race technology that are also in showrooms.

PDK transmission

Porsche developed a dual clutch transmission way before anyone else. It was only used in racing cars for 30 years though.

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Porsche developed a dual clutch transmission way before anyone else. It was only used in racing cars for 30 years though.

Porsche certainly wasn’t the first to get a dual clutch transmission into its road cars; in fact it was rather late to the game when it introduced the “Porsche Doppelkupplungsgetriebe” (Double Clutch) or PDK transmission in the 2009 997 Carrera.

​But it was actually one of the first to develop the technology, but only as part of its racing efforts in the early 1980s, specifically in the monstrous 962 IMSA GTP/Group C car.

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In racing circles at the time it was often said that the early PDK transmissions were reliable, but only in the sense that they would reliably break down, as they were very complex beasts.

But Porsche persisted and eventually decided that the technology was reliable and refined enough to put into its road cars. Which it has ever since 2009.

Paddle shifters

Ferrari was the first to put paddles behind the steering wheel, both in F1 and on the road.

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Ferrari was the first to put paddles behind the steering wheel, both in F1 and on the road.

Ferrari introduced the first steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters into Formula 1 in 1989 when it debuted a new electro-hydraulic semi-automatic transmission into the equally new Ferrari 640.

Ferrari intended to introduce the John Barnard-designed 640 in 1988, but technical difficulties with the transmission delayed it until the following season.

By 1997 Ferrari had developed the technology for road cars and the 355 was the first road car with Ferrari’s “F1” transmission and paddle shifters in place of a conventional gear shifter.

Soon, even conventional automatics would be sprouting paddles on the steering wheel and steering column, the placement of which is still a thing of much debate to this day.

Carbon fibre monocoque

McLaren introduced the carbon fibre monocoque in F1 before moving it into their road cars.

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McLaren introduced the carbon fibre monocoque in F1 before moving it into their road cars.

While McLaren was the first to use a carbon fibre monocoque chassis in a racing car – the MP4/1 from 1981 – Jaguar actually beat it to the punch with road cars when it introduced the XJR-15 in 1990.

Okay, so the XKR-15 was simply a mildly refined version of the XJR-9 racing car for the road, was only produced for two years and it only made 53 of them, but it counts.

The first use of a carbon fibre monocoque in a production car specifically built for the road, however, was all McLaren – the mighty F1 from 1992 – and what a thoroughly wonderful thing it was.

Quattro

Audi calls its four-wheel drive systems quattro. But the real one gets a capital Q.

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Audi calls its four-wheel drive systems quattro. But the real one gets a capital Q.

These days quattro is pretty much a generic term that means any kind of AWD system in Audi-speak.

But the origins of quattro are far more blatantly raucous and exciting.

The proper Quattro – the one with the capital “Q” – was the thoroughly magnificent and unapologetically angry Audi Quattro rally and road car from 1980.

The Quattro was the first rally car to take advantage of the then-recently changed rules which allowed four-wheel drive in rallying and its utter dominance transformed the sport.

In a nice touch, to honour the reputation of the original, all subsequent Audis with AWD would be badged “quattro” with a lower-case “q”, meaning only the original and greatest would carry an upper-case Quattro badge.

Nanoslide

Nanoslide is Mercedes-Benz's very clever friction-reducing fuel-saving tech.

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Nanoslide is Mercedes-Benz’s very clever friction-reducing fuel-saving tech.

Despite what Mercedes-Benz would like you to believe, this one is actually a reversal of the previous four technologies in that it started as a road car application and has moved across into motorsport, namely Formula 1.

Nanoslide is a very clever (but rather dull in theory) technology that reduces fuel consumption by reducing friction inside an engine with the application of an extremely thin low-friction coating applied to the inner surfaces of the cylinders in an aluminium engine block.

Its first application was in the monster 6.2-litre V8 in the AMG 63 cars, but it has since moved across the entire AMG range, as well as a number of series production diesel engines in the Mercedes line up.

And then into Formula 1, making it possibly the first time technology has moved from a diesel van into F1.


 – Stuff



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